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A billion stars captured on a single picture of the Milky Way

AROUND one billion stars in the Milky Way can be seen together for the first time in an image captured over a decade by astronomers.

Scientists produced the picture by combining infra-red light images from two telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Astronomers gathered the data which was then processed and archived by teams at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge who, in turn, have made it available to studies around the world.

Dr Nick Cross, of the University of Edinburgh's school of physics and astronomy, said: "This incredible image gives us a new perspective of our galaxy and illustrates the far-reaching discoveries we can make from large sky surveys."

The billions of stars, known as the Vista Data Flow System, will allow scientists to carry out research in future without needing to generate further information.